Winners have been named in Vital Communities’ first-ever Upper Valley High Communications Competition: Forrest Mattern for Print PSA, Ashley Fogg won for Television PSA, and Nate Guarino won for Radio PSA. All hail from Hartford and are seniors in the Hartford Area Career and Technology Center’s Media Arts program taught by Felicia Allard. Their public service announcements support Local First Alliance, a program of Vital Communities, answering the question: Why is it cool to shop at locally owned businesses?

“We are thrilled to have been a part of this process and were overwhelmed by the submissions,” said Mundy Wilson Piper, owner of Chippers, which will help promote the winning print PSA. “It was an amazing and inspiring collaboration between the students, Local First Alliance, and the school.”

“Students had the opportunity to work with industry professionals from King Arthur Flour, Co-op Food Stores, and WPTZ, which inspired creativity and some very valuable portfolio work,” added Vital Communities’ Local First Alliance Administrator Emily Gardner.

The winning submissions are available at

Submissions from 13 students were evaluated and winners selected by the Local First Alliance Steering Committee. The winning print PSA will run in the Valley News and on the side of a Chippers truck, and the winning radio PSA will run on Great Eastern Radio stations. Each winning artist received a $150 cash award courtesy of Lake Sunapee Bank, Ledyard National Bank, and Mascoma Savings Bank. The winning television PSA will run on WPTZ, and the winner received an iPad courtesy of Systems Plus Computers.

Vital Communities, a nonprofit organization based in White River Junction, Vt., brings together citizens, organizations, and municipalities to take on issues where an independent voice and regional approach are essential. More information is available at